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Portland Timbers advance with 1-0 U.S. Open Cup win over LA Galaxy

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MLS: U.S. Open Cup-Portland Timbers vs Los Angeles Galaxy Troy Wayrynen-USA TODAY Sports

The Portland Timbers beat the LA Galaxy 1-0 in Friday night’s U.S. Open Cup match, advancing to the quarterfinals on the strength of a Sebastian Blanco goal and a well-earned clean sheet.

The Timbers’ first chance came in the 11th minute as they put the visitors under early pressure. With the Timbers pushing forward, striker Samuel Armenteros received the ball at the edge of the LA box and turned to square up his defender. A quick juke and a step-over gave Armenteros the room he needed to touch the ball into the box and clip a shot toward goal, only for Galaxy keeper David Bingham to get just enough of the ball for his defenders to clear it away as it bounced through the box.

Just two minutes later, it was Diego Chara’s chance to give the Galaxy pause as the omnipresent midfielder collected the ball outside the LA box after a Timbers corner was headed away from goal. Chara took a touch forward into space before hitting a curling, side-footed effort that looked destined for the upper-ninety, only for Bingham to stretch out across the face of goal and push the shot wide.

As the game continued, so did the Timbers’ chances, and in the 22nd minute it was again Chara streaking forward on the break after referee Joseph Dickinson waved advantage following a foul from Galaxy center back Michael Ciani in the center of the pitch. With Sebastian Blanco making a run down the flank, Chara slid a weighted through ball into the winger’s path in behind the Galaxy back line. Receiving the ball out wide, Blanco cut inside and hit a sharp ball that had the power to test Bingham, but flew just wide of the far post instead.

Finally, in the 30th minute, the Timbers found their breakthrough. With the Timbers’ attacking group flying forward into the LA end, Zarek Valentin played a long, precise pass into the path of Fanendo Adi making a diagonal run away from goal. The Timbers’ big man flicked the ball backward and into the path of Blanco, who controlled it and took a touch around the last Galaxy defender before slotting home a near post shot to take a 1-0 lead.

With the Timbers controlling the run of play, it took the Galaxy until the 39th minute to register their first shot of the night. On a rare foray down the pitch, the Galaxy managed to find striker Ola Kamara in the Timbers box. With defenders on either side of him, Kamara was able to take a touch toward goal and get off a shot only for Jeff Attinella to get down and make the simple save.

In the 46th minute, the Galaxy came even closer off a corner kick served into the box by Servando Carrasco. Carrasco’s corner dropped to the far side of the Timbers’ box, finding the head of Galaxy full back Dave Romney who put the ball back across the face of goal. With Attinella unable to get to the ball, it was left to Larrys Mabiala to preserve the lead and the Timbers’ stalwart center back did so, heading the ball off the line and over the bar.

Armenteros went close again in the 55th minute. As the Timbers struck out on the break, a well hit pass from Lawrence Olum found Zarek Valentin making a long run down the right flank. After receiving the ball, Valentin picked out Armenteros making the second run into the LA box and hit a skipping cross into the forward’s path. Armenteros hit the ball first time only to see his attempt skim off the top of the crossbar.

Minutes later, Armenteros had another chance as he brought down a cross from Blanco with his chest in the LA box and cleanly struck a close-range side-volley that looked destined for goal only for Galaxy captain Ashley Cole to lay out in front of him and block the ball.

Late in the match, with time ticking away, the Timbers retreated into a defensive shell, continuing to limit the Galaxy’s chances but struggling to string together possessions of their own.

In the 89th minute, the Galaxy found a rare crack in the Timbers’ defense. As the home side recovered from a foray forward, the Galaxy found youngster Ariel Lassiter outside the Timbers’ box. Lassiter turned into space and uncorked a strong shot on goal that forced Attinella into a diving save to push the ball away from goal.

The win means that the Timbers advance to the quarterfinals of the Cup. The side are back in action on Sunday, June 24th when they return to league play with a road match against league leaders Atlanta United.